Celebrating 20 Years of Delivering Customised Inhouse Training 


Act Now Training is celebrating 20 years of delivering training and consultancy in Information Governance. To commemorate this, we will be offering various offers over the next month so watch this space.

To kick things off, we are offering 20% off all in-house course bookings made until Christmas this year. These can be scheduled for delivery anytime in the next 12 months.* Act Now’s in-house training services are very popular for those seeking high quality training customised for their organisation. These can be delivered online or at client locations. 

Over 100 inhouse training courses were delivered by our team of associates in the past twelve months. These have been delivered online, as well as at client premises. We have delivered training for a range of organisations including local and central government, political parties, the NHS, and the charitable sector. Course titles include: 

  • SIRO’s and IAOs 
  • RIPA  and Surveillance  
  • Handling Subjects Access Requests 
  • Data Sharing 
  • Law Enforcement Directive and Part 3 of the DPA 2018 
  • EIR Exceptions 
  • FOI Exemptions 
  • DPIAs 
  • International Transfers 
  • GDPR Practitioner Certificate 
  • FOI Practitioner Certificate 

We have also delivered our very popular certificate courses in GDPR and FOI on an in house basis. The feedback has been very positive with an average Net Promoter Score of 91 for the last twelve months: 

“I found the trainer to be both very engaging and interesting and I felt participation was fully encouraged. The conduct of the training was very effective and the trainer made the training and the subject come to life with his engaging and easy manner. He was of course also highly knowledgeable and experienced.”  

AB, Isle of Man Government 

“Really good training course – I now have a much better understanding of Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations. Tutor was really clear and very knowledgeable in the topic area.”  

GS, Environment Agency 

“Very knowledgeable trainer pitched at the right level. Interactive elements welcome so officers could discuss real world situations they have encountered making it very practical as well.”  

WP, South Ribble Borough Council  

Act Now has been providing inhouse training and consultancy services for over 20 years.  We pride ourselves on having experienced practitioners in the fields of Data Protection, Surveillance Law, Freedom of Information and Information Management. All have many years of experience of training and advice in this area.  

We have trained over 80,000 individuals from different backgrounds. Our strength lies in having a strong client base in all relevant sectors. This means that we are well informed about the most current information management issues in almost every sector. With our education led approach, we are committed to providing measurable training that adds real world value to organisations by promoting and developing participants’ skills, competencies and behaviours. 

Feel free to get in touch to discuss your online inhouse training needs. Visit our website for further details. Please quote “20th Anniversary” when enquiring. 

*Although scheduled delivery can be anytime in the next 12 months, payment terms will still be as per the usual 30 days from invoice.

ICO Takes Action Against GDPR Subject Access Delays

On 28th September 2022, the Information Commissioner’s Office announced it is taking action against seven organisations for delays in dealing with Subject Access Requests(SARs). This includes government departments, local authorities and a communications company. 

The seven organisations were identified following a series of complaints in relation to multiple failures to respond to requests for copies of personal information collected and processed by these organisations, either within statutory timeframes or at all. 

An SAR must be responded to within one month, although this period can be extended by a further two months in the case of a manifestly unfounded or excessive request. The time starts from the date of receipt as per a ECJ court ruling and confirmed by the provisions of the forthcoming Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.

But an ICO investigation found the seven organisations, from across the public and private sector, repeatedly failed to meet this legal deadline. This resulted in reprimands under the UK GDPR and, in some cases, Practice Recommendations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Information Commissioner John Edwards told the BBC naming and shaming organisations that fail to comply is a new proactive way for the ICO to work. 

“It’s going to become more common – it’s really important that people can have confidence in the administration of their information rights,” he said.

“That’s why we are publicly notifying these organisations that they have to bring themselves into compliance. 

“Being able to ask an organisation ‘what information do you hold on me’ and ‘how it is being used’ provides transparency and accountability.

“These are fundamental rights – these are not optional.” 

The seven organisations are:

Ministry of Defence (MoD)

The MoD has been issued with a reprimand following an identified SAR backlog dating back to March 2020. Despite setting up a recovery plan, this backlog has continued to grow, and currently stands at 9,000 SAR requests yet to be responded to. This has meant that, on average, people were typically waiting over 12 months for their information.

Home Office

reprimand has been issued to the Home Office following investigations that showed between March 2021 and November 2021, they had a significant back log of SARs, amounting to just under 21,000 not being responded to during the statutory timeframe. Complaints to the ICO showed requesters suffered significant distress as a result. As of July 2022, there are just over 3,000 unanswered SARs outside of the legal time limit.

London Borough of Croydon

The investigation revealed that from April 2020 to April 2021, the London Borough of Croydon Council had responded to less than half of their SARs within the statutory timescales. This meant that 115 residents did not receive a response in accordance with the UKGDPR. Additionally, since June 2021, the ICO has issued 27 decisions notices under FOIA related to the Council’s failure to respond to information requests. They have been issued with a reprimand as well as a recommendation under our renewed approach to FOI regulation for failure to meet statutory response deadlines.

Kent Police

From October 2020 to February 2021, Kent Police received over 200 SARs, 60% were completed during the statutory deadline. However, some of the remaining SARs are reported to have taken over 18 months to issue a response. As of May 2022, over 200 SARs remain overdue. A reprimand has been issued.

London Borough of Hackney

For the period of April 2020 to February 2021, London Borough of Hackney did not respond to over 60% of the SARs submitted to them in the statutory timeframe. The oldest SAR was over 23 months. They have since been issued with a reprimand as well as a FOI practice recommendation.

London Borough of Lambeth

London Borough of Lambeth has only responded to 74% of the SARs it has received within the statutory timescales from 1 August 2020 to 11 August 2021. This equates to 268 SARs. The council continues to have a backlog of SAR cases and, based on the updated figures, does not appear to be improving. They have been issued with a reprimand.

Virgin Media

Over a 6 month period in 2021, Virgin Media received over 9500 SARs. 14% of these were not responded to during the statutory timeframe. However, their compliance in 2022 has seen improvements. A reprimand has been issued.

These organisations have between three and six months to make improvements or further enforcement action could be taken by the ICO. This action is a reminder that all Data Controllers must have policies and procedures in place to deal with SARs in a timely manner. 

Our workshop, How to Handle a Subject Access Request, equips delegates with the skills and knowledge to handle complex SARs. For experienced GDPR Practitioners wanting to take your skills to the next level we have  our Advanced Certificate in GDPR Practice which starts on 25th October. 

Have you Considered an Apprentice?

Act Now Training has teamed up with Damar Training on materials and expertise underpinning its new Data Protection and Information Governance Practitioner Level 4 Apprenticeship.


The apprenticeship will help develop the skills of those working in the increasingly important fields of data protection and information governance.

With the rapid advancement of technology, there is a huge amount of personal data being processed by organisations, which is the subject of important decisions affecting every aspect of people’s lives. This poses significant legal and ethical challenges, as well as the risk of incurring considerable fines from regulators for non compliance.

This apprenticeship aims to develop individuals into accomplished data protection and information governance practitioners with the knowledge, skills and competencies to address these challenges.

If you know someone who you think would benefit from doing an apprenticeship in DP and IG, then this may be the perfect solution for them.
Places are limited for each cohort. Cohorts start in September, January and May.

Further details can be found at https://www.actnow.org.uk/apprenticeship

The New EU Data Governance Act

On 17th May 2022, The Council of the European Union adopted the Data Governance Act (DGA) or Regulation on European data governance and amending Regulation (EU) 2018/1724 (Data Governance Act) (2020/0340 (COD) to give its full title. The Act aims to boost data sharing in the EU allowing companies to have access to more data to develop new products and services. 

The DGA will achieve its aims through measures designed to increase trust in relation to data sharing, creating new rules on the neutrality of data marketplaces and facilitating the reuse of public sector data. The European Commission says in its Questions and Answers document

The economic and societal potential of data use is enormous: it can enable new products and services based on novel technologies, make production more efficient, and provide tools for combatting societal challenges“.

Application

The DGA will increase the amount of data available for re-use within the EU by allowing public sector data to be used for purposes different than the ones for which it was originally collected. The Act will also create sector-specific data spaces to enable the sharing of data within a specific sector e.g. transport, health, energy or agriculture.

Data is defined as “any digital representation of acts, facts or information and any compilation of such acts, facts or information, including in the form of sound, visual or audiovisual recording” that is held by public sector bodies and which is not subject to the Open Data Directive but is subject to the rights of others. Examples include data generated by GPS and healthcare data, which if put to productive use, could contribute to improving the quality of services. The Commission estimates that the Act could increase the economic value of data by up to €11 billion by 2028.

Each EU Member State will be required to establish a supervisory authority to act as a single information point providing assistance to governments. They will also be required to establish a register of available public sector data. The European Data Innovation Board (see later) will have oversight responsibilities and maintain a central register of available DGA Data. 

On first reading the DGA seems similar to The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 which implemented Directive 2013/37/EU. The aim of the latter was to remove obstacles that stood in the way of re-using public sector information. However the DGA goes much further. 

Data Intermediary Services 

The European Commission believes that, in order to encourage individuals to allow their data to be shared, they should trust the process by which such data is handled. To this end, the DGA creates data sharing service providers known as “data intermediaries”, which will handle the sharing of data by individuals, public bodies and private companies. The idea is to provide an alternative to the existing major tech platforms.

To uphold trust in data intermediaries, the DGA puts in place several protective measures. Firstly, intermediaries will have to notify public authorities of their intention to provide data-sharing services. Secondly, they will have to commit to the protection of sensitive and confidential data. Finally, the DGA imposes strict requirements to ensure the intermediaries’ neutrality. These providers will have to distinguish their data sharing services from other commercial operations and are prohibited from using the shared data for any other purposes. 

Data Altruism

The DGA encourages data altruism. This where data subjects (or holders of non-personal data) consent to their data being used for the benefit of society e.g. scientific research purposes or improving public services. Organisations who participate in these activities will be entered into a register held by the relevant Member State’s supervisory authority. In order to share data for these purposes, a data altruism consent form will be used to obtain data subjects’ consent.

The DGA will also create a European Data Innovation Board. Its missions would be to oversee the data sharing service providers (the data intermediaries) and provide advice on best practices for data sharing.

The UK

Brexit means that the DGA will not apply in the UK, although it clearly may affect UK businesses doing business in the EU. It remains to be seen whether the UK will take similar approach although it notable that UK proposals for amending GDPR include “amending the law to facilitate innovative re-use of data for different purposes and by different data controllers.”

The DGA will shortly be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and enter into force 20 days after publication. The new rules will apply 15 months thereafter. To further encourage data sharing, on 23 February 2022 the European Commission proposed a Data Act that is currently being worked on.

This and other GDPR developments will be discussed in detail on our forthcoming GDPR Update workshop. We also have a few places left on our Advanced Certificate in GDPR Practice course starting in September.

2022 IRMS Awards

Act Now Training is pleased to announce that it has been nominated for the 2022 Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) awards in all three categories. 

Each year the IRMS recognises excellence in the field of information management with their prestigious Industry Awards. These highly sought-after awards are presented at a glittering ceremony at the annual Conference following the Gala Dinner. In 2021 Act Now won the Supplier of the Year award. 

For 2022 Act Now has been nominated for the following awards. 

  • Team of the Year
  • Supplier of the Year
  • Innovation of the Year

All IRMS members are eligible to vote in the IRMS awards. The deadline is Monday 18th April 2022. Vote now for your favourite training company.

New US-EU Data Transfer Announcement: Time to celebrate?

On 25th March 2022, the European Commission and the United States announced that they have agreed in principle on a new Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework. The final agreement will replace the Privacy Shield Framework as a mechanism for lawfully transferring personal data from the EEA to the US in compliance with Article 44 of the GDPR. As for UK/US data transfers and compliance with the UK GDPR is concerned, it is expected that the UK Government will strike a similar deal once the EU/US one is finalised.

The need for a “Privacy Shield 2.0” arose two years ago, following the judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in “Schrems II” which stated that organisations that transfer personal data to the US can no longer rely on the Privacy Shield Framework as a legal transfer tool. They must consider using the Article 49 derogations or standard contractual clauses (SCCs). If using the latter, whether for transfers to the USA or other countries, the ECJ placed the onus on the data exporters to make a complex assessment  about the recipient country’s data protection legislation (a Transfer Impact Assessment or TIA), and to put in place “additional measures” to those included in the SCCs. The problem with the US is that it has stringent surveillance laws which give law enforcement agencies access to personal data without adequate safeguards (according to the ECJ in Schrems).

Despite the Schrems II judgment, many organisations have continued to transfer personal data to the US hoping that regulators will wait for a new deal before enforcing Article 44.  Whilst the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) seems to still have a “wait and see” approach, others have started to enforce. In February 2022, the French Data Protection Regulator, CNIL, ruled that use of Google Analytics was a breach of GDPR due to the data being transferred to the US without appropriate safeguards. This followed a similar decision by Austrian Data Protection Authority in January. 

Personal data transfers are also a live issue for most UK Data Controllers including public authorities. Whether using an online meeting app, cloud storage solution or a simple text messaging service, which one does not involve a transfer of personal data to the US? At present use of such services usually involves a complicated TRA and execution of standard contractual clauses. In the UK, a new international data transfer agreement (IDTA) came into force on 21st March 2022 but it still requires a TRA as well as supplementary measures where privacy risks are identified. 

Has the Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework saved DPOs hours of work? But before you break open the bubbly, it is important to understand that this is just an agreement in principle. The parties will now need to draft legal documents to reflect the agreed principles. This will take at least a few months and will then have to be reviewed by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) adding more time. And of course there is the strong possibility of a legal challenge especially if the ECJ’s concerns about US surveillance laws are not addressed. Max Schrems said in a statement:

We already had a purely political deal in 2015 that had no legal basis. From what you hear we could play the same game a third time now. The deal was apparently a symbol that von der Leyen wanted, but does not have support among experts in Brussels, as the US did not move. It is especially appalling that the US has allegedly used the war on Ukraine to push the EU on this economic matter.” 

“The final text will need more time, once this arrives we will analyze it in depth, together with our US legal experts. If it is not in line with EU law, we or another group will likely challenge it. In the end, the Court of Justice will decide a third time. We expect this to be back at the Court within months from a final decision.

“It is regrettable that the EU and US have not used this situation to come to a ‘no spy’ agreement, with baseline guarantees among like-minded democracies. Customers and businesses face more years of legal uncertainty.”

What should organisations do in the meantime? Our view is, if you have any choice in the matter, stick to personal data transfers to adequate countries i.e. those which have been deemed adequate by the UK/EU under Article 45. This will save a lot of time and head scratching conducting TRAs and executing SCCs. Where a US/non-adequate country transfer is unavoidable, a suitable transfer mechanisms has to be used as per Article 45. Of course for genuine one-off transfers the provisions of Article 49 derogations are worth considering. 

Only 2 places left on our Advanced Certificate in GDPR Practice course starting in April. We have also just announced three new GDPR workshops for experienced practitioners.

Leading Surveillance Law Expert Joins the Act Now Team

Act Now Training welcomes solicitor and surveillance law expert, Naomi Mathews, to its team of associates. Naomi is a Senior Solicitor and a co-ordinating officer for RIPA at a large local authority in the Midlands. She is also the authority’s Data Protection Officer and Senior Responsible Officer for CCTV.

Naomi has extensive experience in all areas of information compliance and has helped prepare for  RIPA inspections both for the Office of Surveillance Commissioners and Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO). She has worked as a defence solicitor in private practice and as a prosecutor for the local authority in a range of regulatory matters including Trading Standards, Health and Safety and Environmental prosecutions. Naomi has higher rights of audience to present cases in the Crown Court.

Naomi has many years of practical knowledge of RIPA and how to prepare for a successful prosecution/inspection. Her training has been commended by RIPA inspectors and she has also trained nationally. Naomi’s advice has helped Authorising Officers, Senior Responsible Officers and applicants understand the law and practicalities of covert surveillance. 

Like our other associates, Susan Wolf and Kate Grimley Evans, Naomi is a fee paid member of the Upper Tribunal assigned to the Administrative Appeals Chamber (Information Rights Jurisdiction and First Tier Tribunal General Regulatory Chamber (Information Rights Jurisdiction).

Ibrahim Hasan, director of Act Now Training, said:

“ I am pleased that Naomi has joined our team. We are impressed with her experience of RIPA and her practical approach to training which focuses on real life scenarios as opposed to just the law and guidance.”

Naomi will be delivering our full range of RIPA workshops as well developing new ones. She is also presenting a series of one hour webinars on RIPA and Social Media. If you would like Naomi to deliver customised in house training for your organisation, please get in touch for a quote. 

The New Isle of Man GDPR Handbook

Act Now Training is pleased to announce the launch of the new Isle of Man GDPR Handbook. The handbook is designed for data protection practitioners and legal advisers who require a reference guide to the Isle of Man Data Protection regime. It has been published following the success of the Act Now UK GDPR and EU GDPR handbooks.

The IoM GDPR handbook sets out the full text of the EU GDPR as it applies to the Isle of the Man (Applied GDPR) together with cross referenced recitals. Isle of Man specific amendments, insertions and deletions are clearly indicated to allow users to easily identify what has been changed from the original EU text. Relevant provisions of the Implementing Regulations have been included where they contribute to the further understanding of the Applied GDPR. Guidance from the Isle of Man Information Commissioner and the European Data Protection Board is also signposted to assist users when interpreting the legislation. 

Ibrahim Hasan, the editor of the IoM GDPR Handbook, said:

“I am really pleased with the publication of the Isle of Man GDPR Handbook. We wanted to fulfil the need of data protection practitioners in the Ise of Man to have access to a clear and easy to follow publication to help them navigate their way around this complex legislation.”

Isle of Man delegates who book our new IoM GDPR Practitioner Certificate course will receive a complimentary copy of this handbook as part of their course materials. 

EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT

The RRP of the Isle of Man GDPR handbook is £54.99 (plus postage and packing). There is an early bird discount of 15% off the RRP until 3pm on 17th March 2022. Please quote the discount code “IoM15” when placing your order here. 

The Revised GDPR Immigration Exemption  

The Data Protection Act 2018 (Amendment of Schedule 2 Exemptions) Regulations 2022 came into force on 26th January 2022. It amends Schedule 2 of the DPA 2018 to include a revised “immigration exemption”. The exemption disapplies many data subject rights in the GDPR (now UK GDPR), such as subject access and the right to erasure, where personal data is processed for “the maintenance of effective immigration control” or “the investigation or detection of activities that would undermine the maintenance of effective immigration control”. 

The amendment follows the May 2021 Court of Appeal judgement, in  The Open Rights Group & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department & Anor  (2021) EWCA Civ 800, where it was held that the immigration exemption, as it was originally drafted in the DPA 2018, was unlawful and incompatible with the EU GDPR (and now consequently the UK GDPR). 

Article 23 of the EU GDPR allows Member States to create exemptions to restrict data subjects’ rights in certain circumstances (e.g. for the purposes of crime prevention).
Such exemptions must respect the “essence of the fundamental rights and freedoms” and be “necessary and proportionate… in a democratic society”.  Article 23(2) also includes a list of “specific provisions” that any legislative measure creating a restriction to data subjects’ rights must contain e.g. the purpose of the processing, the relevant categories of personal data, the scope of the restriction introduced and details of the accompanying safeguards. The Court of Appeal found that the immigration exemption, as originally drafted, did not contain any of these provisions; nor were they covered in any separate legally binding legislation.   

The 2022 regulations amend the immigration exemption to make clear that it may only be relied on by the Secretary of State and only if the Secretary of State has in place an immigration exemption policy document. This is a document which explains the Secretary of State’s polices and processes for determining whether, and the extent to which, the exemption applies in any particular case, and for ensuring that any personal data covered by the exemption is not abused or accessed or transferred in a manner contrary to the UK GDPR. Additional safeguards are also added to the exemption to require the Secretary of State:  

(a) to decide whether the immigration exemption applies on a case by case basis, and to have regard to the immigration exemption policy document when making such decisions;

(b) to keep a record of any decision that the immigration exemption applies and the reasons for that decision;

(c) to inform a data subject of any such decision, unless doing so may be prejudicial to any of the matters mentioned in paragraph 4(1)(a) and (b) of Schedule 2 to the 2018 Act. 

Following the Court of Appeal judgement, questions now arise (though not specifically addressed by the court) about the legality of other GDPR exemptions set out in the DPA 2018. Many of them also appear not to have the “specific provisions” required under Article 23(2).  

Act Now’s UK GDPR Handbook has been updated to include the revised wording for the immigration exemption, as well as new guidance from the ICO and European Data Protection Board. This is now available to purchase although delegates on our forthcoming GDPR Practitioner Certificate course and Advanced Certificate in GDPR Practice course will receive a complimentary copy. 

Act Now in Dubai 

Last week the Act Now team returned from a trip to the United Arab Emirates to promote our Middle East training programme. It was a great opportunity to better understand the UAE privacy framework and the needs of businesses faced with the challenge of implementing new laws (as well as get some sun!) 

The Middle East is fast catching up with Europe when it comes to data protection law.
The UAE recently enacted a federal law to comprehensively regulate the processing of personal data in all seven emirates. This will sit alongside current data protection laws regulating businesses in the various financial districts such as the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Data Protection Law No. 5 of 2020 and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Data Protection Regulations 2021. In addition there are a number of sector specific laws in the UAE which address personal privacy and data security.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar also now have comprehensive data protection laws. 

Whilst in Dubai we met with a number of potential clients, consultancies and law firms specialising in data protection. It was a great opportunity to discuss the changing privacy landscape and how Act Now can assist in developing the understanding of the legislation and its practical implementation. We had some interesting discussions about the changing privacy attitudes around the world, the power of Big Tech and increasing use of AI. 

We also had meetings with data protection regulators in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We were impressed by their commitment to educating businesses about the new laws and their practical advice to reduce the burden of implementation. They emphasised the importance of embedding a privacy culture in organisations and an understanding of the UAE laws as standalone privacy laws and not just “importing of GDPR”. A special thank you to Lori Baker at the DIFC and Sayid Madar at the ADGM for taking time out of their busy schedules to meet us.  

During our last trip to Dubai in 2018 there was very little awareness of data protection law amongst businesses and compliance seemed to be geared around GDPR. This time on our travels (and shopping trips) we certainly noticed a more serious attitude amongst larger businesses to try and get data protection right. We saw  privacy notices in most official forms, CCTV signs in malls and even a privacy notice recording when ringing our hotel.  

The introduction and/or revision of privacy law in the Middle East is an important development which further proves that data protection is a truly global issue.
Many organisations may need to appoint a Data Protection Officer as part of the new legal framework. Even where they do not need a DPO they will certainly need someone to drive forward compliance and liaise with regulators. This opens up opportunities for UK and EU Data Protection professionals especially as the new laws have some alignment with  the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  and the  UK GDPR
 

These are exciting times for data protection professionals. For those seeking a fresh new challenge and the opportunity to spread the data protection message to new jurisdictions, now is the time to brush up on Middle East data protection laws. See photos of our trip below. Sun, sea and subject access awaits! 

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